Thursday, November 29, 2012

Unparalleled access . . . or not

     Lots of publicly active players are quick to use words like "unprecedented" and "unparalleled"(they mean the  same thing anyway . . ) when they talk about the relationship and communication between Eve players and CCP, and therefore we should tread lightly, out of respect, when using that "unparalleled" access.  I think they (the proclaimers) need to get out more.

     Two games that immediately come to mind that had far better communication between the devs and the players are Blade Mistress and Tale in the Desert.  There have been other titles that I have been involved with/played that had equal or better access than Eve players do to CCP, and other players who have been around the PC game world for a while could likely come up with a bunch of titles too.  Maybe these advocates are hoping to get a little CCP public expose and garner a few CCP browny points to spend at a later date, at some unanticipated place or time, like, maybe being some/one of the official player podcast commentators at an upcoming fanfest.

     If CCP wants their game to fly, literally, they need to get their heads out of their asses, collectively.  How many work at CCP?  300 or so?  For every CCP employee, busy toiling away in one of their little super-teams of developmental goodness, on some specific part of Eve, there are tens, dozens and possibly hundreds of players that are more expert on how to USE said specific part of Eve, than ANY CCP dev will EVER be.  Why?  Because someone who codes all day, and has a history of some of the truly boneheaded decisions that CCP has made, has demonstrated time and again that they really know fuck all about the game they are building.

     For any particular project, anywhere in the world, there are three distinct steps and three distinct kind of people.  Designers, builders and users.  I have been building shit for over 40 years.  I have been designing those same projects/things for nearly the same amount of time.  More often than not, I usually have also been the one using said item(s).  It isn't what I planned, it just ended up that way.  That gives me a perspective that not everyone has.  A simple analogy is a race car.  The dude that engineered the car, and the guy that actually fabricated the car, are most likely not the dudes who are going to drive it at top performance.  Sometimes you get a person who can do a combination of two of those things, and sometimes you can be lucky and come across a person who is decent at all three.  A large number of CCP projects and their devs have demonstrated on multiple occasions, that they don't play Eve (or at least no where near as much as they infer), and have no clue at all about the actual game play.  Some devs are pretty switched on, but lots aren't.  That's where listening to players comes in.

     Players don't need to worry about how the game is designed or coded, all they have to do is worry about how it plays.  Many players spend as much, or possibly more, time each day playing Eve, as the devs do working on it.  They are experts in how the game plays, and if CCP is too fucking stupid, or arrogant to acknowledge that, they will see their game carry on with the flat line, and then a subscription decline as players get tired of one fucked up change after the other.  If CCP is too closed minded to understand that the keenest of the players are looking to keep the game they love improving, they deserve to tank.  If CCP can't see that players are offering advice on nerfs, to THEMSELVES, only the most arrogant dev would ignore that.  That's what happens though.  That's what IS happening.  It happened with that stupid captain's quarters.  It happened with the null anomaly nerf.  It happened with that stupid fucking inventory.  It happened with factional warfare.  It happened with the war decs.  It happened multiple times before all of these too.  Page after page after page of PLAYER and CUSTOMER complaints on the Eve-O forum (another predominantly useless turd of a feature) and the devs and they sycophantic GMs and ISDs edit and delete and lock anything that really calls CCP out on their stupidity.  Stupidity that could have been averted, had they listened.

     I said it before.  CCP is quite likely not able to deal with their creation anymore.  They should be extremely grateful that they have such a loyal and mature player base, even through and in spite of, their most massive fuck-ups.  It's not hard for them to go through their player comments and see that they're not a bunch of min-maxxing whiners looking for easy mode, yet time and again, they don't listen.  If they get so far down the pipe of a particular development feature or process that they decide it's "too late" to stop it, and it turns out to be fucked, that's their fault.  Their problem and their poor process.  In all my years of development, fabrication and production, every time I have seen the "it's too late" scenario marched out, it has ALWAYS been based on the fact that someone is trying to cover their ass for the wasted time and money.  In the world of development and fabrication, there's no such thing as "too late", just too arrogant.

     Eve players don't need to fawn over the devs lest they get pissed off and stop listening.  Lots of them already don't listen.  The devs should be thanking their lucky stars that THEY have unparalleled access to players who take a "game", THEIR game, as serious as they do and are interested in developing the game for the  long haul.  If CCP is really smart, they'll acknowledge and accept the fact that they may be the designers and coders, but they really have no clue about the game play, that is a big step forward.  Even the fact that they are the designers and coders is completely useless if the direction they are going is completely unplayable or unpalatable to their customers.  Players aren't driving the bus, and don't need to, but if a player knows the road and tells the driver that the bridge is out, that might be a smart time to listen.  CCP has their ideas about the direction they want to go with their game, and rightly so, but if they allow too many of their employees to walk around with their heads up their asses, they'll be following their vision into red ink.

     So, maybe I was wrong.  I think there IS unparalleled access.  The unparalleled access is how a game company has thousands of far more expert users of their product than themselves, who are bound and determined to make the game work, regardless of how bad CCP tries to fuck it up.

     Maybe, fire Greyscale (who doesn't play Eve at all), and give that job to the ship balancing dude.  He'd do a better job at moving Eve forward, and might even be able to go back and fix all the shit that Greyscale has fucked up.  That would also be "unprecedented", but a good thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

DUST Motes: Speculation

     I remember a Star Trek episode where the plucky crew of the Enterprise stumbled on a race of xenophobes, and the aliens kept erasing the crew's memory while Data tried to help clean up the errant loose ends.  Problem was, a few strands were left hanging here and there and the humans, being human, couldn't help but tug at them to find out what they were attached to, which led to the inevitable nearly-fatal hijinks for the entire crew.  I think of that show when I think of DUST 514.

     DUST will be a fairly major accomplishment if CCP can take the idea they've been cooking since 2008 and get it to decently mesh with Eve.  There are probably a fairly huge number of technical issues to deal with, and that doesn't even include the game balancing issues between the two games' populations and complicated market interactions.  On one hand, CCP needs to develop slow enough that the ship doesn't sink when they smash the bottle off her nose on launch, but they can't wait too long either lest a fickle FPS crowd loose interest in a prolonged and de-featured beta, and the crowd goes looking for another ship.

     I probably have more plans imagined for DUST than CCP does, but that doesn't mean what I hope DUST will be, is what CCP intends DUST to be.  For non-Eve players, some of the very generally described game play features inspire a lot of speculation that tends to grate on the already fairly raw nerves of the Eve players, especially the null Eve players.  FPS players are pretty jazzed about the ability to actually "claim" in-game resources and land, and that it can still be theirs tomorrow when they log in again.  It's something that has only been possible on a very limited scale, and is completely transient in other FPSs.  The ability to claim  planets and space - sovereignty, is an exciting thing and some of the most vocal DUST players are looking forward to dropping in all over the Eve verse, scooping up planets left and right.  Eve players think parts of the rumoured game play will be pretty cool as well, until of course planets and systems in null sec are mentioned.  At that point, the nicey-nice, and genial conversation sort of hits the floor.  The polite smiles go bye bye.

     For non-Eve players, they really don't understand the time and effort involved in claiming space in null.  FPS lads think that a few rounds of match play, run over some bunnies, capture a few zone guns, and they're well on the way to grabbing some tasty null sec space.  An Eve player really doesn't want to hear about that shit when it takes them days and days to go through the iHub and TCU reinforcement timers, or what happens to the shit they have in the system's outposts.  A DUST bunny says "WTF is an iHub and a TCU??"  The short answer is, they're a couple of many things that are really going to piss off Eve payers, that's what they are.  Eve players need to carry around supplies, plan moves, build ships and mods and ammo and take it with them when they go off to kick someone's ass.  They really don't want to hear any bullshit about how DUST bunnies can drop from the sky, like the special snowflakes they are, and start poking gaping holes in their alliance's sovereignty.  Eve players don't want to hear about a magic travelling market that goes with the bunnies, everywhere they go, and making their gear on the fly as they drop into the planet zones.  Eve players don't want to hear that an alliance might need to go out and get a bunch of PS3s if they want to keep control of their space with the same effort as they do now.

     Speculation is always going to be an issue when you have a bunch of gamers as excited as the DUST bunnies seem to be.  NDAs, limited game functionality, and cloak and dagger references to game features are lacking just enough detail that they inflame the imaginations of the console players, and inflame other things in the Eve player base.  After all, it's not like CCP dropping stupid shit in the lap of the player base is a rare thing.  Eve players can do some crazy shit, if there's too much stupid shit.  With too little understanding of Eve, the DUST bunnies will dream up some really optimistic, pro-console game play, and that already isn't very popular with Eve players, especially in null sec.  With too little info on DUST, Eve players are going to dream up some really pessimistic pro-console game play, and that is not going to make integration any more acceptable with Eve payers.

     Eve players are already on a bit of a short fuse and all the recent ship balancing and eye candy is helping a little, but I don't think it's really taken the heat off of the Eve pressure cooker a whole lot, especially with the null crowd.  DUST is no where ready to come out of the oven yet, and there are so many aspects of the game that haven't even been tested or seen yet, it's got to be well into next year before they even think about an open beta, if they're smart.  There are a lot of fancy games that have just come out, or are going to be released soon.  Maybe CCP is being smart and they're waiting for the smoke to clear a little from titles that might be too close to DUST, like Planetside 2, MWO, Hawken and Halo.  The longer CCP waits, the better the game will be, but the longer they wait, the more tired the enthusiasts will be of grinding the same beta content and over-speculating about features that that could be years away from implementation.  I think CCP needs to start adding more little bits and pieces, a little more often, or people aren't going to be around in the months ahead that I think it'll take to test out even the most basic planet-taking features.  I'd hate to be the guy planning the release date.  While CCP claims that the nature of Eve's and DUST's game play connection is such that either game could survive without the other, it would be a real shame to see the incredible potential of DUST, roll over and sink to the bottom on launch.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Post nice stories too. Yawn . . .

     Whilst doing my mining, I went though a number of Lost In Eve podcasts.  I like the rivalry banter of the good old triple A vs CFC stuff, which mainly involves Rundle's -A- pulpit.  I like the null sec reports on wars, etc, and I don't necessarily mind them talking about dev blogs and game changes.  What is tough to sit through though, is when they get all Eve-fanboy.  They talk about talking about Eve.  Talk about talking, and ho boy baby Jeebus, can those two fucking talk about talking, especially, "the Rundle".

     A common theme/comment is how to get non-Eve players interested in Eve.  How to get the "Eve in great" message send out to the world's gaming community.  Well, the word IS getting out to the gaming community and it isn't a good "word".  That bit of news should be approximately of ZERO fucking surprise to any Eve player, and it should be abundantly clear to Jade and Rundle, but in their Eve coloured glasses, sometimes I wonder, because they want people to talk about the good stuff too.

     They seem to be able to gloss over the fact that Eve has a fair number of assholes in it, and they are big enough assholes to command the greatest part, like, say, about 99 fucking percent, of all Eve news content.  Open sandboxes, and emergent game play, and you can be the master of your own domain, and all that rot, is pretty much a thin skin of dried shit that floats atop the cesspool of Eve that the rest of the online world thinks it is.

     Few people pay attention to any kind of news that is nice or good.  Criminals, evil corporate types, murderers, who is cheating on Sandra Bullock again, and the need for 57 million firetrap SUVs to be recalled.  Those are things that catch people's attention.  They want to hear about bad shit happening, especially to other people, because it makes them feel good that it didn't happen to them.  No one gives a shit about how many old ladies were helped across the road, or how many people were fed at the food bank, or how many starving people with flies walking on their eyeballs were fed in the desert country of <insert desert country name here>.  That shit is skipped right over so you can get to the comics or fast forward it to get to the Sandra Bullock part (who I think is HAWT! :)).  No one pays attention to good news like that in real life because it makes them feel like assholes, because they didn't do any of that good stuff.  So why would "good Eve news" interest anyone and be a draw for new players to flock to Eve?  The answer is, it doesn't and it won't.  Bad news DOES attract more assholes though, and that's not good either.

     Drama makes news stories and that catches people's attentions, but the vast majority of the gaming population isn't really interested in REAL drama, personal drama, drama that knocks them on their chair shaped asses and takes their shiniey stuffs and money.  Not even PVP players from other games who routinely get their stuffz back.  They, the majority of the non-angry players, I think, want goodness, niceness, or at least no badness.  "Good news" isn't news because it should be the standard, not something out of the ordinary that earns a news bulletin.  "GOOD" is expected, and in most MMOs, is the standard as soon as you log in.  People just might like to play a game to relax.  To zone out, not think, do stupid shite to get some pixels broken, killed and revived, or break some stone blocks, or just plant some fucking carrots.  They don't want to have to look over their shoulder for a boogey man player looking to ruin their day.  Even if Eve isn't filled to the brim with assholes like everyone thinks, it doesn't matter, that's the perception, and no "good" news will ever wipe that out.

     I had a bit of an epiphany though.  The good news is more bad news!  I know right?!?  I think CCP is slowly realizing this too.  What we need is more news of game changes, nerfs and lots of public outcry and reports of tears.

"But d00d!", you exclaim, "that's what we've got right now, and that's the freakin' problem, yo!"

"Ha ha!!", says I, "But this time, it is not the cries of the carebear, nor do the tears come from the eyes of the miner or the pubbie, anon.  This time, the wailing and the gnashing of teeth have come forth from the pie hole of the griefer."

     As news gets out that griefers and assholes are unsubbing from Eve because it's becoming too Hello Kitty in Space™, that is exactly the kind of good news that will start inflating the anemically flat  subscription numbers.  You gotta break some poopy eggs to make some good news omelettes. ;)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

King of blogs? Podside #7 necro

     Whilst doing the high sec care bear thing and catching up on old podcasts, I came across episode 7 of podside.  Apparently, being low in retrospective thought, and high in blood alcohol level (just guessing there, in defence of their thought processes . . .) a number of podside participants took umbrage at Mord Fiddle's post on his blog entitled Victory Conditions.  I know, June, but I said necro in the title, right?

     A long while back, I went all the way back in Mord's blog as far as it was saved, and started reading forward.  Unlike me, Mord is an excellent writer.  Articulate, clever, and a very entertaining and an educational writer where it comes to null sec news.  He's got a wry sense of humour and a sarcastic/ironic writing style that, based on the comments, a fair number of people don't "get".

     Another person who doesn't get it, is this dude named Spencer, on the podside episode, and apparently he's a Mittens fan and got butt-hurt because of the way Mord wrote his blog articles, and that Mord was so anti-Mittens because of the Goon's whole ministry of love thing where the goons were going after the authors of online meta content that was anti-goon.  At any rate, mord wrote a tongue in cheek post about how he would accept the Mitten's surrender on behalf of ANY persecuted blogs or podcasters, not ALL of them.  I thought it was funny and brilliant, but that's only because I actually READ what is written, and not jump completely over fucking conclusions like the lads at podside.  For whatever reason, the participants of that show were infected by the cloud of stupid or lack of sense of humour, and they all go stumbling off into the dark at about the 49 minute mark.

     So, at the start of Spencer's "rant", he asks if he's over reacting or not.  Well, yeah, in the same way the Lost in Eve crew went 100% tinfoil in the suicide-gate fan fest podcast, yeah dude, you fuckin' over reacted.  LOL

Thursday, November 22, 2012

DUST Motes: Running the numbers

     DUST 514 is still in some flavour of beta-ness.  Depending on who you talk to, listen to, and when such interaction occurs, it's either "closed", "open" or just "beta".  It's all very tedious, really, but I suppose NDA games need to be played as much as DUST does at this point.  At the present time, there are a number of blogs and podcasts that are talking about DUST and the devs are decently active at appearing on or in them.  As such, they have thrown out a few interesting numbers.

- In the Eve-verse, there are a little over 5400 systems and about another 2500 wormholes on top of that.  For the time being, CCP is going to start out DUST with interaction on the temperate planets only, and only those in high sec.  Worm hole space will have "something different' but nothing more has been defined about "different".
- Apparently, there are something on the order of 7200 temperate planets.  1115 of those are in high sec.
- Each planet will have a number of "districts" that are distinct areas on the planet and that can be warped to by Eve players in their ships.  The number of districts will depend on a number of factors, like planet type and size, but the number of districts will apparently be in the 10 to 20 range.
- Each one of these districts will be further subdivided into "zones" that hold individual structures and resources.  It is in these "zones" that the actual fighting will take place.  Now, I'm not sure where I read or heard this, but I remember a number of 2 or 3 zones per district.  I don't remember if that was an average or not, but it's all speculation at the moment, so an average will suffice for now.
- Based on the time of day (the planets spin), the planet's location relative to the sun, general geographical features, and the colour of the system's sun, the server will randomly generate the map's terrain and lighting for each zone.

     So, taking a low district average of 10, and a zone number of two, when all the temperate planets in high sec are rolled out, that's a ballpark number of 22,300 separate and randomly generated maps.  Over 140,000 maps when all the temperate planets are rolled out.  When all 46,172 of the "K-space", or normal space, planets are included, that is a low average of over 923,000 individual maps.  There are another 21,000+ planets in worm hole space too.

     Safe to assume that you won't be likely to get bored running the "same old" 1 million+ maps in DUST 514.

     Also, just as an aside, the ASCII code for 514 is this; .  Just sayin'  ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

QQ - Eve's waning bloggery. ?

    O M G!!  Eve blogs and such are d i e i n g!

     Or at least, that's what I read.  Not sure where all that comes from though.  I think part of it is because apparently the is gobbling up writers and bloggers faster than the Langoliers.  As more and more good writers are apparently/allegedly/approximately forsaking their blog writing in favour of plying their trade in a more professional and perhaps visible venue.  The fear might be that all the quirky differences and opinions will be mopped up under the blobbing coalitions of a few big sites like Evenews24, and the aforementioned one.  Lack of variety of opinion, and all that rot.

     Apparently along with this gravitational pull of big sites, the blog pack has had/suffered/seen drastic decreases in blog-member activity.  Not surprising really as ownership and the site has hopped around enough times that it might have lost itself.  Thankfully, there's Google.

     Blogs come and go, as their writers come and go.  Life happens, interests change.  Some people get all enthusiastic about some particular "thing", and think, "Hey!  I could write a blog about that!"  I will be the first to point out (and at me) that being able to write a few random thoughts on a blog makes you a blogger, not a writer.  Writing, like many, many things, is an art.  It's a special way of thinking and seeing things in your mind, and then being able to put that in words.  Like poetry, perhaps, but with less rhyming shit (yes, I like poems to have rhyming shit).  Blogging is not a quick and dirty thing, at least not for me, and it can take hours to get something written, even when it's mostly written out in my head already.  I'll start writing, then go look for a link, or a picture or a reference, try to resist the SQUIRREL! urges, and next thing I know, a couple hours have gone by.  At least right now, I want to be playing Eve and/or DUST, not writing about them.  I think a lot of starting-out or would-be bloggers find that while initially they might have a lot to say, the blogging thing gets old fast and attention and interest drifts.  Some people keep an eclectic blog going that changes along with their interest(s), but with Eve, I think for the most part that the two biggest culprits of Eve blog-fade are A) losing interest in Eve (either completely or just sliding into bitter mode), and 2) losing interest in the amount of effort required to blog regularly, either because life gets too busy or they can't think of anything they'd particularly like to write about.

  Either way, or any way, I don't think it's a big deal.  People and blogs come and go, and while there might be an ebb in active blogs, or at least active blogs of "quality" right now, It will no doubt change.  So, no, chicken little, I worry not that the blogs are falling of the edge of the Eve universe.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Smooth Criminal, Pt 2

     No, this isn't another lament about the Mittenzes, it's about one of his directors.  Whilst doing my menial mining-thing, I've still been plugging away at old podcasts, working my way to thepresent, and have listened to a number of episodes where Courthouse is a guest.  He seems to be a fairly regular fixture on the podside shows, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

     Courthouse is one of the Goon diplomatic directors and he is also a Cluster Fuck Coalition manager.  No doubt he is talented at it as he is also another smooth, articulate and intelligent individual.  He has a measured and calm way of speaking and every time he speaks, I can't help but think there's some strategic or diplomatic agenda that he is steering the podcast towards.  I'm not really a paranoid, but I am aware that he IS a Goon.  A HIGH LEVEL Goon, and they're always scheming about something.

     He's covered a number of topics in the basically free-form podcast episodes and has shared some insights on some of the higher level Goonfleet motives, some principles behind some of the ship doctrines as well as the "Goon side" of the instance where the Goon finance department bent CCP over the faction warfare barrel and made them and the Eve economy squeal like a pig.  Apparently, the Goons told CCP that the FW changes were wide open to abuse, and nothing was done.  Supposedl;y, they told Punkturis, (you know, the one who completely fucked up the inventory with that unified piece of shit?), and she did nothing, likely because she had NO clue what they were talking about.  That part of the Goon tale, is fairly believable IMO.  So anyways, the Goons figured the only way to get their attention was to demosntrate what they were talking about, and, well, the rest is Eve history.  Not being overly cautious, while listening to all the things he says, I am very aware of what his job is, who he plays/works for, and that some of the things he says start smelling very much like spin and propaganda at times.

     He IS a very big fan of Mittenzes, he is NOT a very big fan of the current CSM, nor triple A's leadership and tactics, and he IS very knowledgeable about Eve and it's history, especially null sec history and politics.  He's another very smooth criminal who is very good at putting positive spins on all things Goony, and it is no surprise that guys like him and Mittenzes work together in game.  Those two are in extremely stark contrast compared to the general goon derps I've been "lucky" enough to run across.  Another savvy handler in the goon derp herd.

Friday, November 16, 2012


     In a bit of "extraspection"(yes, new word, I submitted it to Websters just now), I noticed that other high sec players don't see PVP the way it pretty much really is in Eve.  They see different forms of gameplay as completely separate actions, and "PVP" is a term that is defined as one player, usually someone despicable, blowing up someone else, usually "minding their own business" in a transport or mining ship.  I see them all as pretty much the same thing, PVP, and PVP always involves the loss of ISK.

     The obvious form of ISK loss is an assploded ship.  The ship is an asset, but it was likely bought with ISK, or made out of minerals/things with an ISK value.

     When someone gets robbed, or scammed, whether it's for an item or a ship, a pyramid scheme, for a contract gone wrong or mis-typing a market sell/buy order, it's still a loss of ISK, and even in the market, it's still player vs player.  It doesn't always involve blowing something up.

     If someone bum rushes your incursion room and snakes your completion out from under you, or nija loots or salvages your mission, that's PVP, but more importantly, it's a loss of ISK.

     Even in the heady world of miner bumping or another mining fleet out-mining the other players in the belt, forces them to move more often, and that too, is PVP.  It's loss of ISK, loss of ore income.

     There are a myriad of ways to PVP in Eve, and that's not at all saying that I condone assholery like straight up ganking or the scammers themselves, but in the end, it's still a loss of ISK, which makes it PVP.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WTF is a "Hellcat"?

     Having been playing Eve for a couple years now, and having at least a marginal interest in things mercenary and null . . enary, I've heard a number of mentionings of different "cats", and, I thought exactly what the title says.  With a little bit of random clickery, I managed to get a little more info on it.  So, just give me a second to adjust my ass in ye olde rocking chair, and I might be able to elucidate on that, or at least tell you about it, a little, maybe . . .

     To start, we need to set the way back machine to Feb 2007.  A female player started in Eve as a fairly hard core indy player doing market trading, mining, manufacturing, etc.  After getting ganked by pirates in lowsec, she met another player (who had tried to save her during said gank) who soon turned pirate himself.  After being regaled by his tales of piracy hijinks in lowsec, she decided that it t'was to be the yarrrr life for her too.  Her current toon was not suited for such a direction, so she created a new toon, on a new account, and called her . . . wait for it . . . NANCY!  No, just kidding, it was actually the birth of Mynxee.

    While Mynxee was skilling up to be the mostest fiercest female piratey type in Eve, she played support and transport roles to her big sister.  Later, the tables would turn and the big sister would be the transport and scout for Mynxee as she wreaked havoc in New Eden's lowsec.  In Feb 2008, she founded the all woman, female only, pirate corporation called Hellcats(as well as the Hellfleet alliance) to foster and train other female players interested in the pirate's life in Eve.  Due to a problem in getting and keeping female players interested in piracy, she eventually left to join Noir in Mar 2010.  Hellcats officially closed in Oct of 2010.  She also served a term as the chairman of CSM 5.

    So, fuckin' YAWN already!  HELLCATS?!?!?  Yeah, so apparently, at some point, the Hellcats had a battleship doctrine that used Abaddons.  As small gang pvpers, using mostly frigates and cruiser class ships (from what I've been able to see) that bit about Abaddons might be a little sketchy.  At any rate, apparently, in late 2010, Pandemic Legion, in a pique of homage to the all-female corp and also to the TV show, started naming fleet ship doctrines with the suffix of "cat".  Hellcats, Thundercats, Slowcats, Herocats (definitions of the last two cats differs), and yes, even, supposedly LOLcats, again, details of the last one are murky, and NO, it's not a picture of a cat with guns taped to its paws or something . . . I think.

     What I want to do, and possibly should have done, was maybe send Seleene a quick message and see if he knows about the origins of the whole "cat" meme.  Perhaps I shall, and get back with a quick edit when I get an answer. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

PLEX for subscriptions? I sit corrected.

     Earlier on, I talked about CCP considering allowing PLEX to be used to pay the way for fan events.  Well, only being about, oh, nine and a half months LATE, it turns out CCP is already fine with players using PLEX for fan events.  Specifically Fanfest 2012, where PLEX could be used for access passes of various style, plus fanfest events of many kinds, including a hoity toity dinner and a chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour of CCP itself..  What I should have said, is that PLEX is considered being allowed to pay for PLAYER created/run events, like Eve Vegas, or ones anywhere in the world that are quasi, or fully, CCP sanctioned.

     On one hand, it's cool that CCP allows players to subsidize a fanfest event by working on the cost in-game.  At the same time, it takes an in-game resource that was intended for subscriptions, and drives the price up because more uses for the PLEX increases the demand and increases inflation.  increasing the PLEX prices to the point that players are no longer interested in, or no longer have the time to earn the isk to pay for the PLEX, means they will either pay for PLEX with real money, or stop playing Eve.  People who heavily rely on PLEX for subscriptions, will opt for not playing anymore.  Pretty much defeats the purpose of PLEX in the first place.  PLEX for subscriptions should be a CCP priority.  PLEX for extracurricular things should be a very distant second.  If CCP stays greedy and allows PLEX for anything and everything, they'll eventually pay with subscription loss.

     Accepting ISK, on the other hand, or partial PLEX and partial ISK for non-subscription things, means they still make extra money off the PLEX, they might be able to manage PLEX inflation, keep subscriptions and they would provide a big ISK sink for Eve.

     EDIT:  Also, just noticed, but PLEX are not $15 each, but $20 each.  Not sure when the price went up, but it's been a while since I bought any with real cash.  That's an extra 25% increase in the money CCP gets every time they spin a PLEX-for-something plan.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gevlon + FW + DUST = theory

     Perhaps it might be time to don either a tin foil hat, or some kind of protection from people who are wearing said tinfoil hat.  Your choice.

     Gevlon posted a few thoughts over at his blog, back at the end of last month, that postulated another viewpoint on the whole Factional Warfare fiasco.

     In a nutshell, here are the salient points . . .

- DUST 514 is basically a black hole for ISK.  When a DUST bunny dies, if they're paying for better-than-default gear, the gear is lost and they need to buy more.
- the DUST players will be initially fighting on, and for, temperate planets in and around the FW systems
- FW players will be issuing contracts for the bunnies to take planets for them
- CCP possibly "planned" for the FW isk faucet patch in an ill conceived plan to flood the FW players with tons of ISK so that highly lucrative contracts could be issued to the bunnies, who would then in turn be able to spend their ISK windfalls on highly upgraded DUST gear for their toons, which would cause the console players to be massively enthused about DUST and continue playing it
- with so many FW farmers soaking up too much of the ISK faucet, CCP realized that much of the bunny-intended-ISK was ending up in the hands of players who wouldn't be interested in FW PI, and therefore pre-emptively patched, and "fixed" the FW isk fountain

     Some of that might be slightly more paraphrased than the original, but that's the gist of it, as far as I can make out.  Interesting hypothesis, but I'd feel better about his post if it appeared nearer the beginning of Apr.  Having some experience with DUST, and Eve/CCP, I have some . . . "observations".

1.  While it would not surprise me that CCP would come up with a financial plan as entirely fucked up as this, and with one of the devs publicly explaining that if you don't use a "legal" exploit when it's presented to you, you're an idiot, well, I have a hard time buying the idea that this was intentional on CCPs part.  More likely, they relied on their frequently clueless economist instead of talking to the players, specifically, the goons who raped their stupid patch.

2.  For anyone that has played DUST, it's a long fucking way from being ready to come out of the oven.  The maps (only two right now) look like they were designed by a flunked out class from the Vermtek Community College FPS Level Design course of 1991.  It takes 5 to 7 minutes for the game to even load, and one of the two levels is a pure sniper fest (they had more maps).  The graphics quality needs to come up to par, keyboard and mouse functionality needs work, and the chat and group mechanics are about 1985 level.  If CCP was planning to leave the FW isk tidal wave flowing until DUST was released, Eve's economy would have been pretty much permanently trashed.

3.  While lots of DUST fans, including marketing types and many people who have never even played it, will get dreamy expressions and misty eyes while they talk about the millions of DUST players, you'd be lucky right now to find 30 people in local.  Only closed beta, I know, but from only about 25 years of console and computer gaming, for a beta, it's a ghost town.  Keep in mind that's over 400,000 beta keys that CCP gave out, not to mention you can get into the beta by buying the mercenary pack for 20 bucks.  If that extrapolates to going live, it would take a long, long, long, long time for a likely small console community to burn through trillions of PI contract iskies.  Those, would be some fucking rich dust bunnies!  They could buy a ton of trick shit! (even though it would be a long time before they could actually USE it)

4.  Having tons of isk in DUST is nice, but not necessary to get "good" gear.  Like Eve, skill training allows marked improvement in performance and survivability, so better performance is not necessarily money dependent.  Additionally, to get the "best" gear, that requires you buy the items with AUR.  AUR = pay to win.  Again, even with great gear, it requires prerequisite skill trees be fleshed out to use the gear.  The skill training requires skill points, not isk.

5.  It's not hard to make isk, and to fight without losing ANY isk or to build up isk, you just use default or "special offer" gear, both of which have unlimited quantities.  Additionally, the bunny market is going to scale and fluctuate based on console isk flow, players that die a lot will get a bonus to the isk they get rewarded, and players that don't get killed a lot get slightly reduced isk rewards.  As mentioned, you can buy all kinds of cool guns and tanks and suits, but if you don't have the skills to use them, the gear sits there until you amass the millions of SP it takes to use them.  Also, if Eve players end up being the ones that get the BPs for making the bunny gear, there goes the isk sink.

     Maybe the goblin was trolling, and I took the bait hook line and sinker.  Maybe he's serious.  I can't tell.  It's an interesting theory, but I think it's fundamentally flawed because the supposed end point, the focus, of CCP's master plan, is a FPS that has a long way to go.  Mind you, it's not like it would be the first time that CCP sends something off to fly before it can fly.  I don't know what Sony would say about a still birth from CCP.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The plaaaan . . .

     At this point, and it's only about 2 years in, the most gratifying sound to come from Eve/Aura is "skill training completed" in that sultry little voice.  Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, at this point, she only speaks her mind about once a week, if I'm lucky.

     At this point in world domination, all the toons have their high and low sec mining skills maxxed.  All the core skills are at 4, with a number at 5 if they were needed as prerequisites for more advanced ones.  All the individual racial frigate skills are 5, and most have cruiser and battleship skills at 5.  Most of the toons can also fly an orca and a freighter, and 3 or 4 physical freighters are usually enough to handle mineral transport duties to and from the trade hubs.  With racial destroyers and battlecruisers rumoured, I switched all the toons' training to get both of those up to level 5.  Somewhere, sometime, somebody mentioned, I think, that anyone with BC or destroyer skills at 5 would get some kind of grandfathered bonus when the new racial boats and their skills skills come out.  So, what the hell, I figured I'd train them up, just in the off chance that it saves some training time later.

     All the toons can manufacture and do ME and PE research, and can build all the capital ship components.  I was dabbling in orca production for a while and making about 200 to 250 million profit per boat, which was nice.  Other observant players noticed the same trends though, and the market areas I was using were flooded with orcas, so my last one didn't sell.  I managed to sell 6 or 7 of them though, so I was happy.  I might get some more BPC packs for some orcas and try again, but prices are a little flaky right now and even the BPC packs have gone up a lot.  My orca BPO is still in research and nowhere near ready to use yet.  I have some freighter, dread and carrier BPC packs and intend to relocate to near a low sec system and make a few capitals for sale.  I bought a number of capital construction BPOs and they are currently in research.  A long haul at one month per upgrade point though.  I bought a few compression BPOs for some T1 items, so I'll use those to hop the minerals into the low sec station I plan to use if it means too many freighter jumps.  Multiple freighter pilots means I can make hay while the sun shines as an alt watches the system and gates.  I'll permanently leave an alt from one of the accounts sitting in there in a T1 with a prototype cloak so I don't need to jump it in to scout.

     All the toons are going to be aimed at carriers and dreads, wiht a couple also aimed at flying a rorqual.  They will also be able to fly the standard fleet ships like drakes, canes and eventually tengus as well as their racial T3 ship.  The downside of having long duration skills in que also provides the upside of not having to worry about loading skills every day.  More short duration skills will be needed, obviously, when I start cross training the toons on other racial weapons and boats, but that is not until well into the new year.

     While I wanted to, and still would like to, run the COSMOS that I started, and maybe even try some more incursion fleets, for now, I can generate a good steady income, plex the accounts, and keep the training plans full until I decide I'm ready to try WH space or null.  In the near future though, time permitting, I'll start looking more closely at the requirements for some low sec cap production.

     The trick with Eve, is time manipulation.  Get as many revenue generating schemes running simultaneously as possible.  PI + manufacturing + some mining (for more minerals for more ship production) is a good start at doubling or tripling the Eve time.  Isk per hour will obviously vary, but it's still passive activity that is, or will, eventually generate income.  Patient entry into the cap production will allow me to keep a suitable ISK buffer and not leave me with a bunch of caps that I can't get rid of.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More CCP pay-to-win

     When I did my last post on what I think/feel/believe is a pay-to-win scenario that already exists in Eve, I had it on a time delay for posting.  In the mean time, one of the items I mentioned, the latest open tournament, has had some changes.

     First, the entry fee of 20 PLEX was reduced to 10.  Apparently this was in partial response to complaints from players that the entry fee was too high.  If true, that's a step forward from CCP.

     At the same time though, word from CCP was that there were anywhere from 60 to 80 teams who signed up for the tournament.  That number depends on the quality of your rumour connection I guess, but a number in the 60's was apparently put forward directly by CCP.  Amazingly, more than half the signed up teams bailed on the tourney before the bidding for spots would start, though.  That's crazy, right?!?!  Now, the conspiracists would proffer that there never were that many teams that signed up, and that the number of teams claimed by CCP was a very pathetic and douche bag attempt for CCP to try to get player groups to bid more PLEX for the 32 team spots.  More PLEX bid means less PLEX in game, which means PLEX prices will rise (as they are doing), which means more PLEX will be bought to replace tournament PLEX and sold at higher prices.  Can't really see who would benefit from all that PLEX selling, except of course CCP, oh, and the richer Eve players.

     So, move ahead a bit to the point where the bidding is done, and they couldn't get enough teams to play in the tournament.  Of the only 27 teams that actually bid for a spot in the tournament, only 3 teams bid 10 PLEX, and the top teams bid over 40.  Of the 27 teams, 575 PLEX were bid.  Once players found out that there weren't even enough teams that bid for spots, some wanted a complete refund and were ready to bail out.  At that point CCP decided to give everyone back their extra PLEX, and so all 27 teams were in the tourney with a 10 PLEX bid.  Hopefully, that's 300 PLEX that might end up back in the hands of players to help stave off more PLEX inflation.

     More tin foil time though.  It is rumoured that there was some behind the scenes shit going on with some CCP devs trying to entice certain players into the tournament.  Now, with their denials about the whole T20 incident, and then their recant of the denials when the CCP dude admitted that he was a cheating fuck, but they still didn't a) fire him or b) re-instate the player's accounts that outed the mess, so I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for an honest answer out of CCP if a couple of their devs WERE pulling strings.  The whole "pro-Eve tournament" thing would be another potential cash cow if CCP could siphon off a bunch more PLEX.  The tinfoilers would also be remiss if they didn't point out that 2 of the three 10 PLEX bidders also got a bye for the first round.  How many OTHER alliances/groups (with perhaps tournament participation history) did CCP contact with possible enticements for the tournament?  Were the two 10 PLEX bidders given a little nudge nudge wink wink and a bye if they decided to join the tourney?

     Personally, I don't give a fuck about the tournament, or whether CCP has a couple devs doing shit in the shadows.  I'm more concerned about how much more lag or bugs they'll inject, or how they're going to fuck up the UI.  If CCP wanted ALL players involved, CCP could have accepted ISK for entry fees as well.  After all, they've already been PAID for every PLEX that's in the game.  Apparently though, they only want the "most dedicated teams to enter and compete to be champions".  Uh, yeah, ok.  Mainly though, the teams most willing and able to pay CCP with real cash to let them in the tournaments.  Pay to win, much?

     But wait!  There's more!  :)

     In more pay-to-win news, CCP is thinking about accepting PLEX as a form of payment to attend fan events.  Good for them, bad for players who buy PLEX with ISK, but then, like so many "programs" amd "offers", CCP is only interested in the players who can AFFORD to do that.  PLEX is a cash cow to be milked.  Fuck the fact that PLEX for ISK was implemented to HELP players pay for their subscriptions.
     Additionally, according to David Reid (CCP's marketing dude), they were SO happy with the whole video-cards-for-PLEX thing, that they want to do it again.  Now, why wouldn't CCP be happy when they can offload a hundred video cards (that cost them less than 200 bucks) for $300 worth of PLEX each??  Again, good for rich players who can bankroll that amount of ISK to PLEX at the drop of a hat and definitely good for CCP.

     Last point, according to our very own Alekseyev Karde, you know, the CSM dude, the guy who represents players?  Well, according to him and his buddies, any player that complains about the inability to use PLEX to pay for their subscription, (which is why it was instituted in the game) is a whiner.  Nice.  Good thing Alekseyev is thinking about ALL the players, or maybe he's only interested in a select subset of players, like the ones who have enough disposable income to pay for subscriptions and PLEX with real cash.   Start at 20 minutes.  That's some fairly elitist bullshit, but at least then he casually wonders what effects it will have on the people/plebes that he thinks are whiners.  Yay player reps!

     Tournaments, CCP convention tickets, video cards?  My, my.  So MANY uses for people who can afford to throw PLEX around.  I guess the dumb-ass, whining players who actually use PLEX for what it was intended for will have to HTFU, or go play something else.  Go pay-to-win!  ;)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Any idea = awesome idea

     In over 3 decades with the military, I ran into a lot of people that held firmly to that notion.  Stapling your ego too close to the idea generator's exit tends to wipe too much ego off on it, and an idea isn't just an idea any more, it's something alive, some kind of progeny, and it tends to become personal.  Critcise the idea, and the owner gets pissed.  Of late, too many super-friends' teams at CCP seem to have this mentality.

     My whole life has been spent fixing things, designing things, tweaking things, building things.  I wish it weren't so (just for functionality and time sakes) but I have had plenty of "brilliant" ideas, that were completely fucking broken.  As a result of my failures, I have learned to take intellectual punches, to the head, in stride.  I can only be inside my own head, and as much as I might try to think laterally and get behind the eyes, or inside the ideas/head of another, it will still be biased to some extent by me, being me.  For a long while now, when I have an idea, I go through a process where I examine the 5 "W's" (who, what, where , when and why) and then make sure I ask all the relevant people involved, as many questions as I can  possibly think of.  For any particular idea of mine to survive, I know, and accept that I might/definitely need to consult and accept the input of other people.  I also know that there are also times when regardless of my best intentions, my idea is fucked from the word go, and no amount of life support will make it fly.  For anyone truly interested in trying to fix or create or enhance something, the "idea" is the means to those ends, not the point of the exercise.

     Too many times lately, it seems CCP has lost track of the forest for the trees.  They get fixated on an idea, and don't think about or see the big picture.  They say they do, and they'll post like they do, but when they push their idea to Tranquility, even though the players said "don't", they obviously didn't see the forest.  They are the game developers after all, and we are "just" players.

     One major FUBAR example, is that fucked up integrated abortion of an inventory.  It fixed absolutely nothing that they claimed it was supposed to, wastes more screen space than the oirginal and it also injected a shitload of bugs, a number of which still exist.  CCP didn't listen.  They knew what they were doing.  They had a "vision" that the players lacked and the old inventory is never coming back.

     Another example is the nerf nuke on incursions.  All that had to be done, all that was called to be done by the players, was to make players shoot ALL the rats.  Had CCP actually bothered to TRY highsec incursions themselves, they would have seen that the "easy" money was drawing more and more players, which also was limiting individual payouts.  Forget about the fact that it took more than 3 or 4 months of dedicated training plus more than a billion isk to fit a shiney ship to maximise incursion performance.  CCP knew better though, their idea killed incursions.  Then, they dialed everything back to where it could have been with a MODERATE and intelligent tweak, but the damage was done.  I have(had) dozens of players on my incursion contact/notification list.  Now, at most, I see maybe 25% of them online any more.  The rest might just be playing alts, but seemingly, they quit.  CCP knew what they were doing though.  They had a plan.

     Factional warfare?  Wow.  It was completely weak sauce before their "fix", and then afterwards, a handful of "just players" managed to totally rape the game for trillions of isk.  Obviously, the myopic devs at CCP were completely unable to see a couple trees past the one their face was pressed against.  Maybe their economist is a relative of Hilmar's and that's how he got the job.  Maybe Hilmar owes him money and the job is a means of postponing the repayment.  Or maybe, Hilamr needs to fire that idiot and put a few of the Goons on retainer every time one of his geniuses gets a bug up their ass to play with the economy.  Maybe.

     Then, still on FW, while they fucked incursions that took many months worth of training and a billion+ isk, they had the "foresight" to taker a brand new player, in a newby frigate, with NO GUNS, and orbit a button in space, shoot ZERO rats, and rake in multiple times the isk that even the most optimistic and lucky high sec incursion-bear could EVER hope to earn.  Then, they left that cook for a while.  Between the massive trillion isk exploit hole, and the trillions of isk and gear pumped into certain parts of the market, it'll be more than a year before the market stabilizes again.  BUT, CCP had a plan.  An idea.  They had a vision, a bigger picture as the developer, than "just" a player has, or could have.

     Don't get me wrong.  Some parts of CCP DO, seemingly, actually listen to layer ideas.  Some parts, absolutely do not, and will not.  Lots of players calmly point out that "we (the players) are not software developers.  Apparently, these people assume that anyone who can or does code, is somehow automatically awesome, or even competent at it.  They also seem to assume that just because someone is hired into a position, that they can do the job well.  In many areas of the real world, people used to be promoted to the limit of their competence, and then that's where they stopped.  That's no longer the case, and I believe that is the problem with a goodly number of CCP's "ideas".  As the game grows, matures and evolves, why would it not be possible that the game is larger than the ability of people at CCP to handle it or add to it intelligently?  Time and again, you read of businesses or organizations that grow past the ability of the original people to manage it, and so they get help or step aside entirely.  With the listed failings, I think the coders at CCP aren't skilled enough to look at the big picture and see what their changes are going to do any more.  Eve is too big in scope for them to understand what their "fixes" will break.  CCP lacks the vision, and I think, that they don't even HAVE a real, all encompassing vision, or certainly not one that they can execute.  A couple big reasons for that, thinks I.

     First, I think that DUST is just another version of the captains' quarters.  DUST, Sony, console players.  That's a big fucking deal.  A big CCP deal.  If you sit back and think about all the things that need to be interleaved between DUST and Eve, I think that there is a shitload of effort going into THAT task, and all short term, and only cursory, distracted shit that goes towards Eve.  Half-assed and distracted efforts, will produce half-assed updates with badly broken mechanics and coding.  We've had lots of that lately.  Like anything in life, you pay a lot of attention to one thing, and other things are going to hit the floor.  Spinning plates.  It's like someone at CCP is looking over the "action room" and people are furiously coding the Eve-DUST marriage while in the background, like a bunch of angry, tired, hungry kids, the Eve players are saying  "HEY!  Where's some content?!  Tweaks and number changes are fine, but where are the FIXES you've promised for years?!?"  So Hilamr says, "Hey, you with the head!  Write something and give it to those whiners before they realize that we're working NOT on Eve, again, and the shit hits the fan like last summer, again!"  So, we get shit updates, poorly thought changes and no movement on long standing bugs, and especially no movement on long standing issues, like, oh, fucked POS operation and technetium.  Tossing the barking dogs some scraps, does not a meal make.

     Secondly, even though CCP has always claimed the opposite, I doubt many at CCP actually play Eve.  Sure, they might be writing code for it on a daily basis (to varying degrees of competency) but that isn't playing Eve.  There are far more players then there are staff at CCP (at least I am assuming that is so ;)).  For any little gaggle of super-friends at CCP that specialize in CODING (not necessarily PLAYING) any particular area of Eve, there are hopefully/presumably thousands of players that do NOTHING BUT play that particular area.  While coding a part of the game space might give a person a unique insight into the game operation, I highly doubt the coder will know how to PLAY WITH and DEAL WITH the game operation the same way a dedicated player will.  How many examples of players managing to do things in-game that CCP never intended or thought they could/would do, can we think of?  Dozens?  Hundreds?  I don't doubt in the least, that there are thousands of players that are far more expert in the game play of Eve than any CCP employee EVER will be.  Only a complete moron, or an arrogant moron, would disregard the input of people that have valid and valuable input.  While there will always be the players that whine about anything and ask for the impossible, just like in my areas of expertise, it's very easy to spot the people with comments that are intended to help and improve.  If CCP, or people that work there, are too fucking stupid to be able to differentiate the two, well, that's another prime reason why they should be at the Reykjavik airport stabbing garbage in the ditches instead of writing code for Eve.

     Comments from ex-CCP employees, are also an interesting addition to this topic because of the attitude of some of the CCP staff.  Some of the coders don't like it when players suggest or tell them how to do their jobs.  If they're doing a shitty job though, creating problems when their "work" is pushed to the players, then that's the coder's fault.  If they were doing a good job, they wouldn't need to be told HOW to do their job.  That's an ego problem.  Another aspect of that, is even if it's a good idea, some devs would never implement it because it makes them look incompetent.  "If YOUR job is to develope and code, why didn't YOU think of that idea instead of a player who's job it is to drive truck or work a cash register??"  Any dev who thinks like that is obviously too immature for his/her own good, and apparently has enough of an ego to decide a dented ego is not worth the trade for a better product.  Another skin bag for the trash detail, perhaps to learn some verisimilitude.  The devs, and sometimes their CSM puppets like to talk about how complicated and intensive the developmental process is for an idea to progress through the various departments and out to the players.  Well, regardless of what development process they're using, ANYTHING can be stopped.  If the devs don't WANT to stop it, then they're morons.  If they don't want to stop it because of the time and money wasted, too bad.  The fix for that is LISTEN TO THE PLAYERS, and DON'T DEVELOPE BAD FUCKING IDEAS!  If a bunch of CUSTOMERS give detailed and intelligent explanations for why they think something is fucked, only a moron, or a narcissist would ignore that.  We've seen that lots of times though, right?  Like the next clueless idea to take simple, obvious and clear target indicators and change them BACK to round ones.  Round ones that USED to be in the game, but were REPLACED with the current square ones!  I wonder how many idiots on THAT super-friends team were also involved in things like the incursion nerf and the unified fucking inventory?

     CCP could expand the Eve sandbox.  They could make it big enough to include space for their headquarters in one corner.  They could work WITH the players to add improvements and features to the game instead of marching to the beat of their own drum, which might not be up to the task any more.  They could LISTEN to the CUSTOMERS and if they involved them even HALF as much as a game like Minecraft, they'd have a lot more enthusiastic players, more NEW players and fewer bitter players.  First though, they would need to do something very important.  They would need to accept that some of their ideas are really fucking stupid.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eve and the coat of many metas

     OMFG!  How can a fucking Eve player not know about <insert massive in-game event here>?!?!

     That's pretty common on blogs and fora and podcasts.  Common as the risk vs reward meme (. . . and that's pronounced MEEM, like BEAM or SCREAM, not fucking "memmy" like "mommy" with a soft "E", ffs)  Whether it's hulkageddon, ice interdictions, a dev fleet or burning a trade hub, hard core Eve players seem incredulous that other players have no idea what these things are or what they are talking about.  Burning Jita was a bit of an exception though, as people were presented with a splash screen at log-on.  At the same time though, I can also say that I don't always read what is written on those things, so no doubt, like me, people will go to let the dog out, the wife in or to freshen their wobbly pop while the client churns out the character screen.  Lots of players have never even heard of Jita . . .

     Much to the dismay of the Eve vet, or MMO "expert", Eve doesn't have a monopoly on meta gaming.  Lots of other games and MMOs have plenty of meta content to enhance the gameplay as well, but Eve has certainly stepped it up a notch when you don't even need to log in to "play" the game.  For a lot of players, casual gamers, people who just play to relax for a few minutes or hours, do exactly that.  Log in, do some stuff, log out.  Eve isn't their hobby.  It isn't only/mainly where their friends are.  It isn't only/mainly where they get to interact with people.  It isn't some ephemeral "life fill" to expand into a huge, gaping space in their existence where something from the real world could/should be.  It's just a game.  Part time.  Preferably/supposedly fun.  Fora, blogs, Skype, Mumble, Ventrilo, Teamspeak and podcasts?  WTF?!?  It's a GAME.  Again, unbelievably to the hard-core podders, people have no interest in, or sometimes even understanding about, why they would need to or want to spend time outside the game, reading or listening to shit ABOUT the game.

     On the other hand, I fully understand how the meta game most definitely affects what happens inside the game, and whether any particular player knows about or cares about the meta game, they are still affected by it.  Absolutely NO question or doubt about that.

     At the same time though, (and this is going to be a tough thing to control), if CCP lets, or has allowed, their game to get to a point whereby even a casual player will NEED to know about the meta game in order to extract even the most basic enjoyment out of it, that's a fail.  By "enjoyment" I mean whatever basic reason any particular player uses as their motivation to play "a" game, or THE game of Eve.  I understand a company's desire to encourage their players/customers by rewarding them for investing enough or "extra" effort in their product to keep up with fora, dev posts, special event notifications in the meta environment, etc.  I helps to cement the "crack" aspect of their product.  At the same time though, the need for a player/customer to have to expend extra effort, above casual interest, in order to partake in or even hear about the odd little special offer or special event means that casual players will be less interested in a game.  In the present push-button, instant gratification world we current abide in, that's going to make other games, with easter eggs available to everyone, far more interesting.  Not good for Eve.

     The biggest area where the meta game has a negative effect on Eve, is negative press.  Bad things always, always get better press than good things.  Rage inspires more action than a warm, glowy feeling from something nice.  So, in order for CCP to do something other than slowly, slowly plod along with and extremely flat subscription growth, they're going to have to start pointing Eve in a direction that moves away from the asshole contingent in the game, and then hopefully use the meta game to promote a happier, friendlier game, in the meta "game", to gather in new, casual gamers, who aren't really interested in the meta game.  Ah yes, simple times indeed.